Vice Regal Pilot, Astronaut

NASA Photo

A floatplane pilot with a commercial rating will represent the Queen in Canada. Former astronaut Julie Payette will become the next governor general, succeeding David Johnston. The new vice regal has a resume that reads “like it came out of central casting” not only because her long list of accomplishments but because she’s a female francophone and political outsider who is no stranger to high profile positions. “She is trained to fly fighter jets, has two engineering degrees, has sung with the Montreal Symphony and became one of the most respected astronaut leaders in what was then still a very macho top-gun world of NASA,” a former Canada Space Agency colleague told the National Post.

Payette, 54, speaks six languages, was hired as an astronaut in 1991 and spent a total of 25 days in space on two missions. She was the second Canadian woman in space and spent nine years as the Canadian Space Agency’s Chief Astronaut. She took pilot training after her selection and got typed in the CT-114 Tutor. She has 1300 hours.